I’ll never forget the day. It was January 11, 2002. Four months to the date from the fall of the twin towers. I think about that day every day of my life, and I hope I always do.
I was raised in a small Christian church and went to services nearly every Sunday. It was a nice place and mom made us go every week. I was active; I was part of the youth group, and we did retreats and summer functions as well. There were only about six of us in the group but we were close and shared a faith that made us strong.
Once I reached high school though, some things changed for me. I pulled away from the church, from the people and went my own way. I was so carefree, I thought I was happy. I went to parties, met “cool” people, and moved farther and farther away from the faith that I loved as a child because I didn’t want to be labeled one of those “holier than thou types.” I wanted to be accepted, more like the kids at school.
The longer I avoided the church and the faith…the longer I avoided God, the more out of control I became. I was drinking underage, spending time out with friends that were much older, more worldly and , in my mind, more “cool” than the friends that I had at church. I was convinced I was happier than I had ever been. I was FREE. I didn’t have to answer to God.
As the years went by, I was having a “good” time going to clubs, living my life the way I wanted. But I started feeling like nothing in my life was right. My new marriage went bad and ended, my emotions were on a regular roller coaster day in and day out.
Never did it occur to me that maybe my depression had anything to do with giving away my faith in favor of selfish pleasures. Not once did I think back to how truly happy and at peace I was when I was involved in the church group as a child and as a young teenager.
All I thought about was how miserable I was and what an injustice it was that I should have a bad marriage and emotional problems when I was such a good person. I was giving and caring to a fault. I always got stepped on by other people.
Bad things happened to me to the point where people stopped believing me when I would tell them what was going on in my life. Nobody could go through as much as I had in such a short time.
For ten years, I battled depression and anxiety. I took prescription drugs to try to fix what was wrong with me. I became convinced that if there had been a God, he would not have let this happen to me. I stopped partying. Not because God would think it was wrong, but because I hated the way I felt the day after a night out for fun/
A little before my thirtieth birthday, one of my oldest and closest friends started talking about how she had gone back to church and was really enjoying it. She invited me to come with her time and time again, but I always had a “reason” why I couldn’t go this Sunday or that Sunday. I was a little surprised, because she and I became friends through the youth group so many years ago.
She pulled away when I did. In a strange sort of way, I felt betrayed that she was now going to church and not supporting my lifestyle choices. Of course, I never said that out loud. She sounded so happy and so much more at peace than I felt, but all I could do was be jealous that she wasn’t coming to visit me on Sundays anymore ; she was going to church. And even worse, now she was trying to get me to read some books that she had gotten into. A series called Left Behind
For nearly two years, Kelly was talking about church, and then those books. She came down for a visit one night and picked up the first book while we were shopping. She put the book in my cart and I paid for it. That book sat on my coffee table for about three months before I picked it up one night out of sheer boredom. I read the first chapter and thought “Okay, so all these people just disappear and they say this is from the Bible? No way.”
But I kept reading. I pulled out my very old Bible and started referencing a few things. It seemed there were a few passages that matched up. So I read more. I got involved in the characters and the storyline and my curiosity grew.
I finished the book in one night and ran out the next morning to get the next book. I read the first six books in six days and found myself going back and forth between the books and the Bible, along with my dear friend Chrystal, who was also searching for life‘s answers.
Four days into my reading, I stumbled across Rapture Ready. I couldn’t read fast enough. I began reading the Bible in earnest, thinking “Can it really be this easy?” I talked to Chrystal about it. I searched the Internet for everything I could find about end times prophecies.
There must be something to the biblical “seventh day“ because it was my seventh day of reading and I was driving home from work. Traffic was heavy and I was feeling very emotional, very weak and defenseless. I started out just venting my emotions to the Lord. That conversation lasted an hour and ended with me asking Jesus to come into my life, to forgive me for my selfish ways, for my sin.
When I got home, I didn’t remember the drive, I didn’t remember the traffic. My cheeks were wet from crying. And I felt whole for the first time since that last youth group meeting. I cried for the victims and the meaning of September 11 for the first time. Four months to the date of the anniversary.
So many life changing moments happen during our time here and we don’t even see them when they occur. My guilty conscience couldn’t even let me think of God during those empty years. Today, I can’t go a day without talking to Him several times. The time I used to spend partying and having “fun” is now spent studying the Word and the changes in the world. I like my life here in this world, but I can’t wait to go Home where I can be with my Savior for eternity.
I’m ever watchful of signs of the end times. And I am so very thankful that I gave Him a chance, that I finally let Him in. January 11, 2002 will forever be the day when my greatest life changing moment occurred. I still care what people think of me, but in a different way.
Before I just wanted people to like me. Now I pray for people to see me as a strong witness for Jesus, and to experience the feelings I had that day for themselves so that they, too, can have a joyful eternity with the Lord. Following Him isn’t an easy life but then again, the life I had without Him wasn’t so easy either.